The Bukit Batabuh tiger corridor within the RIMBA Corridor. Courtesy of Tiger in your tank?
Major palm oil suppliers may be continuing to buy tainted palm oil despite high-profile commitments to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, reports a new investigation published by Eyes on the Forest.
The study tracked fresh fruit bunches illegally produced within the protected Bukit Batabuh tiger corridor in Sumatra’s Riau, Jambi, and West Sumatra Provinces, finding that the contraband fruit entered palm oil processing facilities owned by Agro Muko, Asian Agri, Darmex, Incasi Raya, Mahkota, Sarimas and Wilmar [Map]. The crude palm oil was then shipped to a port owned by SK group, whose customers include Asian Agri/Royal Golden Eagle, Astra, Cargill, Darmex, Salim, Sarimas and Sinar Mas.
The report says that unless that palm oil was specifically segregated at each transfer point, those companies’ palm oil would be tainted by illegal deforestation.
“Crude palm oil from illicitly grown fruit appeared to travel far by ship from tiger habitat deep inside Sumatra possibly all the way to refineries of some of the most well known brands in the world in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore,” states the report.
Palm fresh fruit bunch. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
The investigation wrapped up in January 2014, a month after Wilmar established a zero deforestation policy that will extend across its entire supply chain. Since then, Cargill and Asian Agri have taken steps toward eliminating deforestation from their palm oil supply chains.
Nonetheless, the findings show that rooting deforestation and illegal encroachment out of palm oil production will be challenging in Indonesia given widespread laundering. Eyes on the Forest says buyers will have to trace palm oil all the way back to plantations in order to ensure their zero deforestation commitments are credible.
“It is essential that responsible palm oil product providers trace the origin of their products to the plantation level,” the report states. “Sourcing based solely on geographic criteria does not prevent purchasing of products contaminated with illegally grown fresh fruit bunches. Diligent back-tracing from refinery to CPO mill and from there to the plantation is the only way to insure that illegally FFB or palm oil is not entering the supply chain. Corporate ports potentially comingling CPO from various mills, especially those operated by third parties like the SK Group appear especially vulnerable to spreading contaminated CPO.”
CITATION: Eyes on the Forest. Tiger in your tank? Destruction of Riau’s Bukit Batabuh tiger corridor for palm oil. Sept 2014.